Samsung Chromebook 3 – should I buy one?

(Image credit: Samsung)

In this guide we're looking at the Samsung Chromebook 3, and if you should buy one.

Samsung is a name that won’t have escaped anyone – except perhaps for freshly arrived travellers from a distant planet – but the company is more known for its smartphones and TVs than laptops. But Samsung does make notebooks, of course, including Galaxy-branded models, and other Windows products, as well as Chromebooks.

We’re focusing on the Samsung Chromebook 3 here, which like a fair number of the laptops running Google’s Chrome OS is a budget product. In fact, this is a very cheap Chromebook, which is one of the big attractions here – and it’s also extremely portable, too.

That’s mainly because the notebook runs with a very compact 11.6-inch screen, and not only is the footprint of the overall device small as a result, but it’s impressively svelte and lightweight.

Naturally, this comes with some compromises, in terms of the hardware components, and in that display being pretty small – about as small as a laptop screen can realistically get. So while this portable is very compact, and very cheap –is it also very much a waste of time? No, the Chromebook 3 isn’t – in fact, we awarded this laptop second place in our roundup of the very best budget laptops.

What’s so great about this machine, aside from the portability and price? We’ll explore that in depth in the next section, and naturally, also point out the main pitfalls with this device.

Remember that this already low-priced Chromebook may well be further reduced with Black Friday discounts, and indeed we’ve already picked out a great offer in our best Black Friday laptop deals. We’ll be constantly updating that page, so it might be an idea to keep it bookmarked to learn about the top offers on all notebooks as they happen.

The bottom line: This is quite simply one of the best cheap laptops you can buy, and a sterling Chromebook in terms of being highly portable, somewhat rugged, with a good level of battery longevity. There’s lots to like here, even if the screen is pretty small and not the best quality.

Pros: Really light and portable. Spill-resistant keyboard. Surprisingly good build quality. Impressive battery life. Great value for money.

Cons: Display quality is a bit of a weak point. Keyboard isn’t great to type on either.

Key specs

  • CPU: Intel Celeron N3060
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 400
  • RAM: 2GB / 4GB
  • Screen: 11.6-inch 1,366 x 768-resolution
  • Storage: 16GB eMMC
  • OS: Chrome OS

Samsung Chromebook 3: everything you need to know

This particular Chromebook is used in schools, and it certainly makes a great model for students, as it’s very affordable, along with being convenient to slip in a backpack to carry around – it weighs only 1.18kg, and is 17.9mm thick.

The Samsung Chromebook 3 is also solidly built, and is capable of taking a few knocks, which is handy in a classroom environment, or indeed anywhere for that matter.

Spills won’t kill: Not only is the build quality of this budget Chromebook surprisingly good and sturdy, but it also has a spill-resistant keyboard, another reason why it’s great as a laptop for younger ones who might be more prone to drink spillages. That said, the keyboard isn’t particularly great to type on – you won’t want to spend hours typing things up – but it’s serviceable enough, and corners are always going to be cut somewhere on a budget machine.

Battery life: There’s good news here in that the battery gives you up to 11 hours of longevity, and Samsung further claims that the power pack is engineered so the battery capacity doesn’t drop away steeply after a few years of using the laptop (as is often the case).

Hardware spec: The spec of this machine is basic, and includes an Intel Celeron (low-end) processor, plus some models have just 2GB of RAM (although many have 4GB). Because Chrome OS is built to be so undemanding, though, the Chromebook 3 is still fine for your everyday light computing usage.

Storage story: As with many bargain basement Chromebooks, however, there’s only 16GB of eMMC storage, which really isn’t much. Although again, Chrome OS is designed with low amounts of drive space in mind, and for users to avail themselves of cloud storage as well as the local drive.

Display dis: The screen is small, of course, and not great with a 1,366 x 768-resolution. This is probably the weakest point of this notebook, but then again, it’s not as if it’s unusable – the display does the job.

Conclusion: If you want a portable, well-built and reasonably tough Chromebook for very little money, then you can’t do much better than this Samsung offering. It has some neat features like a spill-resistant keyboard, and a surprisingly decent build quality at this price bracket. The display and keyboard aren’t the best, but there are always going to be compromises when buying at the lowest-end of the laptop market. Finally, also remember that Chromebooks are very different to traditional Windows laptops (we’ve got an article on whether a Chromebook might be suitable for you, if you’re unsure of the main differences).

TechRadar is scouring every retailer and rounding up all the top deals over the Black Friday period, and we’ve put all the best Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday deals in easy-to-navigate articles to help you find the bargains you’re looking for.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).